Would You Rather: Replace Your Phone Or Dumpster Dive?

While catching up over the phone this week, we got to talking about the movie Parenthoodย and how many totally real, quotable scenes there are in it. Definitely one of those movies that stands the test of time.

Somehow, we started talking about the scene where Kevin, the oldest child, loses his retainer at the Chuck E. Cheese type place and Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen wind up digging through the trash to find it. As she points out, “Retainers are $200. If you dropped $200 in here you would look, right?”

Which, of course, got us talking about what we would dumpster dive to find if we lost it. Wallet. Definitely. Just trying to replace our license alone would be worth the thousand showers we would need to wash off the stench.

But phone? Would we go dumpster diving for a lost cell phone?

Picture this scenario:

You are eating a seafood restaurant. You finish your meal and leave. You realize halfway home that you forgot your phone on your table. When you go back you find out it has been thrown out with the garbage.

In a dumpster.ย With all of the trash from the last several days worth of catfish and crab leg specials.

The manager is sympathetic and tells you he knows that the 5 bags of trash near the top of the bin were the most recent bags thrown away.

He tells you that you are more than welcome to hop on in and take a look for yourself.

Now, this is your phone. Chances are it is a smartphone, so it is probably worth more than you would be willing to throw away. Or is it?

All your contacts.


All your apps.

Need to be replaced.

Pictures you have taken with your phone.

Lost forever.

Do you climb in? Do you start tearing bags open left and right, digging through lobster tails and leftover cole slaw? Or do you give up and go home to call your cellular provider to order a new phone?

Also, it is you alone, by the way. Nobody is with you to bribe with special favors (i.e. your mate) or a year’s worth of Starbucks (i.e. your BFF) to dumpster dive for you.

You will be the only one days and multiple showers later still faintly smelling of fried flounder and oysters Rockefeller. However, if you dug through enough trash you may have found your phone, so at least you could use your saved contact list to vent about it to your best girlfriends!

Phone or Dumpster

Would you rather: replace your thrown away phone or dumpster dive to try to find it? P.S. I have noticed already that some of are you are suggesting trying to call the phone. I forgot to mention that your phone is on vibrate…because of course it is.


Would You Rather: Replace Your Phone Or Dumpster Dive? — 128 Comments

  1. Hopefully you backed up those pictures to your computer at home or the cloud! I don’t know. I might try calling it to see if I could get an idea of which bag it might be in…my husband would probably do it for me. Does that count?

    • Nope, no hubby involvement…and your comment reminded me that I mean to say the phone was on vibrate, so I amended the post! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I’d probably do as Michell, call it and go diving or send someone else in! I’d try before ordering a new one. The prices are ridiculous these days!

  3. Oh I would jump in that dumpster for sure!!! I just got a new phone and it’s hard enough transferring everything when you have the old phone!! I may purchase a full latex body suit before I went in but I would do it! And, Parenthood may be one of the best movies ever!!

    • Totally such a great movie, right? I really need to watch it again! So, marking you down as a dumpster diver, then?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I’m thinking that along with all of the trash was probably something liquidy that fried the phone anyway…so I would just grab a new one! I never back up my photos either…that would be the crappy part. I would just hate to spend 20 minutes in filth to find my phone, which would probably be broken or fried anyway.

  5. Contacts, pictures and apps are backed up on my Macbook. So no dumpster diving for me and a new phone would be had (yes need one anyone, so this as good of an excuse for me). But seriously loved the movie Parenthood and Steve Martin’s grandmother (the character) still cracks me up every time!

    • The grandmother was SO FUNNY!! I need a new phone, too…maybe I should “accidentally” toss it in a dumpster?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Oh, this is a tough one. I just recently replaced my phone, and man those things are expensive! My photos and contacts are already automatically backed up, so that part wouldn’t be an issue. I guess I would have to consider: is dumpster diving worth saving $300? Not that I’m by any means cavalier about money (and $300 is A LOT to spend on a phone!), but I don’t know if I could handle going through bags of strangers’ half-eaten food. Blech! But, like Michelle suggested, if I could convince the hubby to do it…

    • No hubby allowed…didn’t you read the rules!? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I agree that replacing a phone is a nightmare…but then so is dumpster diving! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Dive, dive, dive! I am HORRIBLE at backing up my stuff and I have pictures and videos from when Gia was born so it would be a no brainer for me. But if I had backed everything up, I have the worst smart phone (which is a huge oxymoron because it is the dumbest phone ever) and sometimes feel like chucking it into a dumpster.

    • Lisa’s smart phone often has problems, too, so she said she would sacrifice hers, too! BUT, no way you can sacrifice it with birth pictures and videos!

  8. Oh! How dreadful! I would dive for sure, because I wouldn’t have the money for a new phone right away and I would hate to be without it!

    I haven’t seen that movie in years, though, probably since before I was a parent myself! Time for another viewing.

    • I was thinking after Lisa and I were talking about it that I have not seen it since becoming a parent either, and I totally need to watch it again, too!

  9. I would have to let that go my pictures on my phone suck so I have nothing on their important. I don’t have that many numbers in my cell so if you are important I will find you. I would miss that candy crush though……..

  10. I’d be digging through garbage for days if I needed too. My iphone is my favorite child. It does what I tell it, keeps me entertained, and very rarely annoys me. Now, if one of my kids got thrown out in the trash, they might be on their own ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. When I read this, I went into a cold sweat at the mere thought of losing my phone. I would dive, in a bikini at that, after wearing that bikini to my high school reunion.

  12. Even though there are probably options here, I’d dive right in without thinking anything else through. I would dive without thinking, except for the comfort that at least the food was not weeks old. Right? Maybe Cassidy would do it for me.
    And Parenthood? Best movie.

  13. having lost my phone before, I realized I won’t die if I lost it again. I have my pics backed up in the cloud and my contacts are saved in google. Syronara phone… no dumpster dive for me.

    • That is exactly what Lisa said, too…she had her phone melt last year and had to get a new one, and she said she realized she could do it again! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. I already jumped in while you were asking the question :).
    The biggest thing is the pictures, I really don’t care about anything else on there. Which makes me think I should really start backing up my pictures more often…

    • HA HA HA Angela!! Made me laugh out loud!! And yes, glad we were able to give you the nudge to back up your pictures! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Oh my word! What a dilemma! Fortunately I have stuff backed up on my computer like most of the ladies here. . .I would be all for getting a new phone but I think my husband would try to encourage me to look for it. I wonder if it would even still work after seafood juices have oozed all over it! EW!! LOL!

  16. Sorry, no dumpster diving for me. I keep my phone backed up on a regular basis. I’d just head to the nearest Apple store for a replacement. Then go home and load my backup on it and be good as new. No lost contacts, apps, or pictures.

    Interesting to see how many of you would dive into that dumpster. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I think logically let it go, bad stuff in there, if you got cut might be a bad infection. Maybe pay somebody to get it for you?

  18. Dumpster diving for me! Phones are waaayyy too expensive (I’ll save that rant for another day) and I’m a cheap ass. So that one is easy for me! Plus, I might find some treasures… one man’s trash, eh? At the very minimum, I would get a good blog post out of it! Win win win all the way around! (Minus the part where you have to go digging through trash in a seafood dumpster).

    • SO TRUE about getting a blog post out of it!! See, that is a total glass half full perspective Cara!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I’m in the minority, here, but I wouldn’t dive for it. That’s because I don’t own a smartphone, just a regular cell phone that I got at Costco. It’s by choice that I don’t have a smartphone, and after this question and the answers? Y’all are kind of re-affirming my decision. Yuck.

  20. I’ll take what’s behind curtain #3. I don’t care for these choices. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would take the bags out of the dumpster and still call. I’d listen for the vibration in my zen-like way or grab a stethoscope, yeah, that’s what I’d do, and then open it and wait for a pack of stray dogs to come and wolf down the seafood and there will be the phone licked clean. Then I’d be too grossed out by the scenario and go buy a new phone after downloading everything.

  21. Ahhh this is tough. i speak from experience though when i tell you my dad had to dumpster dive for my retainer once while we were at my grandparents’ apartment one summer. that was so gross. but would i dumpster dive for my cell phone? um, i, ahh i dunno! my boyfriend just answered “yeah, well, maybe, how new is it?” good point, boyfriend, good point.

    • I do think the age of the phone makes a huge difference in the decision-making process here! Can’t believe your poor dad had to dive in and look for your retainer!

  22. If it were a daycare- uh no. BUT I would definitely dive on in at the restaurant!!
    What a total pain it would be to get all those contacts back!!! I would dive til I found it!!! And, I would go buy a pair of gloves first!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cracking up!! The daycare would have been SUCH a good choice!! So annoyed I didn’t think of that first! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. TOTALLY REPLACE…first of all there could be a dead body in the dumpster.

    Secondly…I always upload my photos to Picasa web as soon as I take them, all my contacts are saved on google, and I have no problem downloading apps.

    I have a pay as you go smart phone…so I don’t mind just getting a new one..

    Great question babe.

  24. I would probably go back there and call it to see exactly where in the dumpster it was. I have this thing about trash and messing around OTHER FOLKS leftover food and trash though! That’s why I never worked in a restaurant! If I can hear that the phone is at the TOP of the bag, I MIGHT go fish for it…if not…I would REPLACE! Thank GOD for iCloud!

  25. I’d bribe a waiter to go dumpster diving for me. No way in hell I would dig through “public” trash. I rarely will even move a few things in ours to find something that was accidentally thrown away. Weak stomach. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Having gone through a similar-yet-not-so-similar situation of having to replace an iPhone, I can, without a doubt, say that I would go dumpster diving for that baby.

    Last year, I accidentally sent my phone through the washing machine because I didn’t realize it was still in my pants pocket. No amount of rice was saving that poor thing. I had to replace it, but I didn’t have insurance on it (of course) and initially they wanted me to spend $700 to get a new one. I finally was able to do some contract finagling and was able to get it for about $200.

    None of my apps or pictures were backed up though (OF COURSE) so I lost everything. Yeah, it sucked. And that’s why I wouldn’t hesitate to crawl through old shrimp shells to get my phone back.

    • Love your honesty here Kristen. The going through the washing machine SUCKS!! I can definitely see how after having that happen you would do anything to avoid it again!

  27. Yeah, I’m buying a new phone. I may be the wrong one to ask, I am insured for loss and damage…I also keep everything backed up to Google, mostly because I destroy my phone once a year or so in really ridiculous ways ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • The most embarrassing one was when I dropped it in my breakfast cereal because I was texting while eating (who knew that was not a good idea!)
        I am a *little* clumsy so I drop it often…once I threw one of my phones out the car window accidentally…
        Yeah I am definitely one of the people who doesn’t lose money by getting insurance on my phone!

  28. I have insurance on my phone and my photos are on my iCloud, so I’d leave that phone to marinate in garbage juice and get a new one. I’ve had to dumpster dive for my keys before, and I never found them. It sucked.

    • You can try, but remember the phone is on vibrate, so you will have to watch the bags for movement! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Given that you specified it was a seafood restaurant and I have a serious aversion to most seafood, I would most definitely just replace the phone. All my stuff is backed up on the computer and on “the cloud” so it would just be the money that I would “lose” and there is no amount of money in the world that would convince me to dumpster dive amongst rotten oysters!

  30. My pictures and contacts are all backed up on my Mac. The fear of experiencing a scenario like the one you described is why, once I got the iPhone, I went Apple all the way. So that, together with the fact that I am eligible for a new phone anyway, makes this an easy one. I’ll take an iPhone 5, please.

  31. I definitely would give it up. Sorry. I can’t. I am way to prissy to be caught in a dumpster looking for my phone. With my luck someone would have already found it and took a picture of me in the dumpster!

  32. Since I just recently upgraded from an iphone 4 (no, not even a 4S) to an iphone 5 (now that it’s about to be replaced – boo!) I’m tempted to say replace – just because it was so darn easy to replace everything with my latest icloud backup. But then again, I JUST got the phone, and how wasteful would that be. I suppose you might find me digging a little bit. I just can’t justify $200 two months in a row!

    • Totally hear you…I do feel like the newness of the phone makes a huge difference in the desire to look for it!

  33. This reminds me I really need to backup my photos and/or expand my cloud, which always makes me think of having too much Mexican food. Until then, dumpster diving it is.

  34. I so love Parenthood. Great movie! The boy with “issues” in the movie reminds me so much of my son.

    I’d dumpster dive if it wasn’t rotting food. My gag reflex goes off if I smell something rank so if things were stinky, I’d have to pass.

  35. I’d definitely have to go get a new phone because I’d never be in a seafood restaurant due to my allergies (but regardless the place, I’d still get a new phone.)
    I asked hubby this question too to see what he would do and he stated it would be time for a new phone for sure!

  36. I would totally dumpster dive. And fyi, my husband also lost a retainer in a restaurant and we spent an hour looking through garbage… never found it! It was actually a flip tooth, so poor dude had no front tooth for awhile.

  37. Yikes! Personally, I have no insurance on my phone, so I would have to dumpster dive, and I would still totally try to call it, vibrate or not, hoping that it would make enough noise to spare me a little time. However, I would probably ask for extra trash bags to make into a makeshift outfit so that I didn’t have to get the nasty all over my clothes and maybe spare myself a little stench. I wouldn’t search forever, though. If I’d looked through those 5 bags and it was not in there, chances are I’d give up. I guess what I’d be most tempted to do was take out the bags and dump them to search instead of search in the actual dumpster and fain a huge rat destroyed their garbage when they complained (Actually, I’d probably be long gone before they discovered the mess!). ๐Ÿ˜€

    Truth, though? If I could totally afford to buy a new phone, I’d just be upset and get the new phone. Maybe I could guilt trip the restaurant into paying for a new one since it was their wait staff they threw away my phone. I could rant and tell them either they dumpster dove and found it or they replaced it…and I wanted my meal for free, darn it! Yah, I could muster that much anger, couldn’t I? We may never know, but I’d sure try! ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. I think I would go in for it…but if I was at the end of my contract (damn those phone contracts) I might not. Great question…but I could totally see this scenario playing out for me: I dive in, never find the phone…and then go home, find it sitting abandoned on the kitchen counter, and realize that I had actually never had it with me.

    • Double ugh totally made me laugh! In the cloud also makes me giggle…I just love the whole concept! ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Oh this is totally a “no-brainer” for me!! I’m old and a grandmother. Also not very technical! The mere thought of trying to replace all the crap I’ve FINALLY figured out how to download and do on my phone….OMG, I would knock him out of the way to dig in that dumpster!! Not to mention with all the years of baby/kiddie/accidental grown kids/PETS–pee/poop/vomit/spills/critter crap (you name it, at my age, I’ve cleaned it up!!)—I seriously doubt a few hours old food would even make me gag!! Lol But that’s just me

    • HA HA HA!! This entire comment made me BURST out laughing!! Better not tell Traci you said you would dive in dumpster or she may create the scene! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Oh you know her well!! Hahaha!! She’d be hosing me down from afar!! Not to mention I wouldn’t get to visit her for ?? Maybe never! Lol

    • Cracking up that the baby drooling has broken the speaker phone…seems like the phone should more solidly built, right?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  40. I have a confession to make. I read this post a few days ago and didn’t comment because I needed time to think.
    And now I’ve made a decision. I’m gonna dumpster dive. I can’t get a new smart phone anytime soon so I’m just gonna pray real hard that it’s not dead by the time I get it.
    Also on a related note…who throws away a perfectly good smart phone?!?! Shouldn’t it go to a lost and found or something? I’m just curious.

  41. Really? Idc how many showers I take, my phone can’t take showers and I put it next to my mouth…and nose. Totally would rather replace my phone. Luckily all my contacts and pics are backed up! Sure, it’s worth $200, but I have insurance. Dumpster diving? No way. But I would use my replacement phone to take pics of the rest of you covered in nasty shrimp and lobster! Bleck! Good one, Dose Girls

    • HA HA HA Heather…that is EXACTLY what Lisa said, too! She definitely felt like putting it to her face ever again would be a no-go! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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